Ex-deputy who accused former Sheriff John Urquhart of groping files countersuit

Brian Barnes contends the former sheriff defamed him by publicly describing the allegation as a malicious, politically motivated lie, as well as by labeling Barnes an “organizational terrorist” who habitually files false claims against supervisors.

A former deputy who claimed ex-King County Sheriff John Urquhart grabbed his crotch in a Renton parking lot four years ago has filed a countersuit as part of a formal response to Urquhart’s pending defamation lawsuit against him.

Brian Barnes, in a 15-page answer and counterclaim filed Monday in King County Superior Court, contends his groping accusation against Urquhart is true, and that the former sheriff defamed him by publicly describing the allegation as a malicious, politically motivated lie, as well as by labeling Barnes an “organizational terrorist” who habitually files false claims against supervisors.

“This defamation suit brought by Mr. Urquhart is an abusive attempt by the former Sheriff of King County and former candidate for public office to deflect accountability, punish, retaliate against and damage the reputation of a private citizen, Mr. Barnes,” the counterclaim states.

Among other contentions, Barnes’ court filing also claims that Urquhart, by repeatedly publicly disparaging him, violated the terms of a 2015 settlement agreement under which Barnes was paid more than $160,000 to voluntarily resign from the Sheriff’s Office; and that the former sheriff has selectively used personnel and investigative documents to falsely attack his reputation.

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Urquhart has “intentionally or recklessly caused emotional distress to Mr. Barnes by extreme and outrageous conduct and is liable for severe emotional distress resulting from such conduct,” the counterclaim states.

Barnes’ filing asks the court for a judgment against Urquhart and to award compensation for damages to be proved at trial.

Lawyers for Urquhart and Barnes did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Barnes, 49, now a college-campus police officer in Massachusetts, formally complained to the Sheriff’s Office in September that Urquhart, 70, groped him in 2014 in the parking lot of a Renton restaurant following a dinner meeting. His complaint led to a criminal investigation by Renton police, and, following news reports, prompted Urquhart —…

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